Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz Falsely Lays Claim to Reagan Mantle

The Gipper and Cruz are near total opposites on immigration and amnesty


Ted Cruz

The pack of Republican presidential hopefuls has now descended on New Hampshire. Ted Cruz is trying to widen his appeal beyond the Evangelical base that put him over the top in the Iowa caucuses. How? By claiming to be the political heir to Ronald Reagan. 

Today NPR's Morning Edition reported:

Cruz…claimed for himself the one Republican legacy that almost all Republicans agree on – Ronald Reagan.

Cruz: We saw the old Reagan coalition coming together again – we saw conservatives and Evangelicals and libertarians and Reagan Democrats all standing together say "What on Earth is going on?"

Cruz evidently continued:

Marco made the decision, the conscious, deliberate decision to go and stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and to lead the fight for amnesty.

Sadly, Marco Rubio has now essentially denounced himself for trying to fix the immigration mess.

In any case, do you know who else led the fight for amnesty for undocumented immigrants living in the United States? That would be Ronald Reagan. Here are a couple of salient quotations:

In an Oct. 21, 1984, debate with Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, Reagan endorsed a comprehensive immigration overhaul that Congress was debating.

"I supported this bill. I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally."

Reagan Library

On Nov. 6, 1986, Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which allowed undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they paid a fine and back taxes and admitted guilt. From his signing statement that day:

"We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans."

On this issue, Cruz, and none of the other Republican presidential candidates have any justification for pretending to be the heirs to Ronald Reagan' s legacy. Trying to claim Reagan's mantle while in the same breath denouncing immigration reform amounts to a kind of political blasphemy.

For more background see my Reason colleague's Matt Welch's superb "The GOP's Nativist Summer" and "Republicans vs. Reagan."

Update: See also my colleague Jacob Sullum's new column, "The GOP's Suicidal Immigration Stance."